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The Buy Pile: Black Cat Makes This Week a Win, Barely

Black Cat #5

WHAT IS THE BUY PILE?

Every week Hannibal Tabu (winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt/2018-2019 City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Cultural Trailblazer/blogger/novelist/poet/jackass on Twitter/head honcho of Komplicated) takes on between seven to thirteen reviews (or so) to share his opinions with you. Thursday afternoons you'll be able to get those thoughts (and they're just the opinions of one guy, so calm down) about all of that ... which goes something like this ...

THE BUY PILE FOR OCTOBER 2, 2019

Black Cat #5 (Marvel Comics)

Jump from the Read Pile. In this issue, the threat from the Negative Zone, Blastaar, goes toe to toe with Felicia Hardy. Wait, don't leave, yes, on the surface that sounds like a very short and predictable battle, but it's so not! This Jed McKay script takes what could have been a very dumb slobberknocker and instead makes a nuanced, clever character piece that tells a complete (and engaging) story while advancing a larger narrative. Add in the high powered artwork from Travel Foreman, Brian Reber and Ferran Delgado and you've got an issue so big, that Johnny Storm as a guest star isn't even in the top five most interesting things happening. Super engaging content and ... is this the third issue in a row that made the jump? If so, this is now a buy on sight title. Yes! RATING: BUY.

Die #8 (Image Comics)

Die #8
Die #8 might make you say "good grief" with this pensive story.

"What is a warrior in a time without war?" This question from a sentient sword fits this awkward issue, itself a waiting game with more questions than answers. This month doesn't dazzle, doesn't awestrike the reader with personal or plot related revelations, nor does it address the cliffhanger from last issue. Some might find that frustrating, as even this focus on the Grief Knight lacks urgency. Kieron Gillen may never have turned in a bad script, but this is a half step off and even the visual brilliance of Stephanie Hans and Clayton Cowles couldn't stop this race car from trading some paint. Two more issues like this would be a concern, but as it stands this could just be a bump in the road. RATING: BUY. BARELY.

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Star Wars Doctor Aphra #37 had some fun moments as the scoundrel in question continued to look for every angle and means to manipulate the situation, all with the threat of Vader literally looming over her shoulder. The plot zigs and zags recklessly in the months before Empire Strikes Back but has a problem finding its own course, especially with a supporting character who feels out of place. This book's a mixed bag, alas. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Red Sonja #9 had clever elements as it pushed a long-running story close to conclusion. The visual of the tower was very effective and the use of shadows within likewise worked well. The title character didn't have much going on and for all the stabbing, not much happened. Not bad, but again this might work better in a collected edition. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

Immortal Hulk #24 was very close to making the jump but failed to make the disposition of its central conflict clear. The ideas of its last pages are fascinating and the horrifying nature of its action are really something to see (if you're not faint of heart), and there are a couple of gasp-worthy moments you may see before waking up in a cold sweat. If that one scene with the "party" was a little less metaphorical, this would have been it. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

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Sea Of Stars #4 did a lot of strong character work developing the Zzazteks as, essentially, jerks. Likewise, it showed the two leads as fully realized individuals, and got the reader invested in their outcomes. The outcomes were abruptly cut short, though, as this single issue wasn't a complete chunk of narrative. Very close, but seemingly better suited as an installment in a longer work. RATING: HONORABLE MENTION.

House Of X #6 would have been absolutely gripping in prose, taking time with every montaged moment (the shared drink, the laughter) and given the horrifying disposition of one problem child more "oomph." It had moments and a mild surprise or two if you can identify most mutants on sight. As mostly overwrought, voiced-over sequential art much like a movie trailer? RATING: HONORABLE MENTION. BARELY.

If you're looking for the Legion of Super-Heroes in Legion Of Super-Heroes Millennium #2, they finally make an appearance near the end of this issue. If you wanted a book about Rose and Thorn in space, well you're in luck! Hh. RATING: MEH

Black Terror #1 was weird. A virtually immortal Superman-class hero struggling with nebbishy insecurities and social awkwardness and maaaaaybe even drug addiction. Why? Hard to say. RATING: MEH.

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Ghost Rider #1 falls into a familiar and boring modern pattern of not bothering to develop villains worth fighting when friends can be turned with a lot less paperwork.RATING: MEH.

Harley Quinn #66 was uneven, with a lot of emotional hand wringing less-than-balanced by someone literally gets hit with a sun, which is not even a big plot point. Too emo to be funny, to surreal to connect emotionally, this missed the mark. RATING: MEH.

WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

A thin win is still a win, so thank spirit for Black Cat.

THE BUSINESS

The weekend of October 19-20, catch artist Quinn McGowan at two conventions, the Black Power in Comics Celebration 2019 in Wilberforce, OH and then at Memphis Comic Expo in this columnist's Tennessee hometown.

Have you checked out season four of the free web comic Project Wildfire: The Once and Future King? While you can, read the whole thing for the best possible price: "free."

T-shirts, stickers and even a hoodie: find the finest in indie comics merchandise in the Operative Network Store on the site and on Etsy.

The writer of this column isn't just a jerk who spews his opinions -- he writes stuff too. A lot. Like what? You can get Scoundrel (historical fiction set in 1981 east Los Angeles), Irrational Numbers: Addition (a supernatural historical fiction saga with vampires), Project Wildfire: Enter Project Torrent (a collected superhero web comic), The Crown: Ascension and Faraway, five bucks a piece, or spend a few more dollars and get New Money #1 from Canon Comics, the rambunctious tale of four multimillionaires running wild in Los Angeles, a story in Watson and Holmes Volume 2 co-plotted by 2 Guns creator Steven Grant, two books from Stranger Comics -- Waso: Will To Power and the sequel Waso: Gathering Wind (the tale of a young man who had leadership thrust upon him after a tragedy), or Fathom Sourcebook #1, Soulfire Sourcebook #1, Executive Assistant Iris Sourcebook #1 and Aspen Universe Sourcebook, the official guides to those Aspen Comics franchises. Love these reviews? It'd be great if you picked up a copy. Hate these reviews? Find out what this guy thinks is so freakin' great. There's free sample chapters too, and all proceeds to towards the care and maintenance of his kids ... oh, and to buy comic books, of course. There’s also a bunch of great stuff -- fantasy, superhero stuff, magical realism and more -- available from this writer on Amazon. What are you waiting for? Go buy a freakin' book already!

Got a comic you think should be reviewed in The Buy Pile? If we get a PDF of a fairly normal length comic (i.e. "less than 64 pages") by no later than 24 hours before the actual issue arrives in stores (and sorry, we can only review comics people can go to stores and buy), we guarantee to try and review the work, if remembered. Physical comics? Geddouttahere. Too much drama to store with diminishing resources. If you send it in more than two days before comics come out, the possibility of it being forgotten increases exponentially. Oh, you should use the contact form as the CBR email address hasn't been regularly checked since George W. Bush was in office. Sorry!

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